Ever wonder if yoga, water aerobics and walking can actually burn a lot of fat? Many people question the ability of yoga, water aerobics and walking to burn off a lot of fat.

So let’s compare these three exercise modes as far as their fat burning potential.

I worked as a personal trainer at a gym for five years, and most of my clients wanted to lose weight. I’m really big on high intensity interval training (HIIT) –which is the greatest fat burner out there other than intense forms of weightlifting.

High intensity interval training cannot be applied to yoga or “water aerobics” (though it can be applied to lap swimming), but HIIT certainly can be applied to walking.

The Fat Burning Potential of Yoga

Can yoga burn a meaningful amount of fat? It depends on the moves and how much you’re putting into them.

When I took my first yoga class, I pushed myself and made no excuses despite the newness of this discipline to my body. It just so happened that the sequences were not for beginners, though beginners could work around them and self-modify.

Because I was already fit, I was throwing myself at the moves and keeping up with the flows, wanting at several points to just rest in the child’s pose but refusing to.

My heart rate and breathing were elevated, but not to where they get when I’m briskly walking up a lengthy uphill mountain trail.

I noticed that some people in the class were rather lackadaisical, not really pushing themselves. Yoga, like walking, will burn more fat the harder you work — the harder you go after the challenging poses.

At the end of the class I felt that I’d had a good workout. If you don’t have good fitness at the time of your first yoga class, you’ll only be able to do so much, and this will minimize the fat burn potential.

The woman next to me was obese; her movement range was limited. Her transitions were slow. The fat burn will be reduced.

However, this same woman, if applying HIIT to a walking session, would burn significantly more fat — simply because she’s already able to walk. It would be just a matter of speeding up and adding inclines.

But it was impossible for her to keep up with the yoga flows and get deep enough into many of the poses to burn a lot of fat.

As you get better at yoga you’ll be able to throw yourself into the poses more–and hence burn more calories. But yoga is not a high fat burner when compared to hill dashes, parking lot sprints, heavy bag workouts and intense strength training.

How Much Fat Can Walking Burn?

When HIIT is applied to walking you’ll get a fierce fat burning result. HIIT involves alternating very brief segments of all-out effort with a few minutes of casual pacing.

An example would be walking a 15 percent incline at 4 mph on a treadmill WITHOUT HOLDING ON for 30-60 seconds, then slowing the speed to one mph and walking this for a few minutes to recover, and repeating this alternation eight more times — NEVER HOLDING ON.

This concept can be applied on hilly outdoor terrain and will blast the fat if done truly at HIIT level. HIIT walking workouts burn way more fat than yoga, though a yoga class to a beginner will be far more “difficult.”

Sustained hard walking up a lengthy hill or on a high treadmill incline (hands off) that gets you breathing hard will also burn more fat than the same amount of time doing yoga.

Water Aerobics: Poor Fat Burner

Water aerobics is a good medium for certain populations, but for fat burning, it sinks. I’m referring to the typical water aerobics group class, rather than strenuous lap swimming.

A water aerobics class, given at a rec center or health club, is ideal for very poorly conditioned people, the elderly, people rehabbing from injuries and those with mobility challenges.

However, water aerobics also attracts more able-bodied folks. It’s refreshing and some people just love being in water.

But sorry, the fat burn is below the radar. Don’t rely on water aerobics for burning fat. If you’re obese or have some kind of orthopedic issue, you may still be able to do HIIT walking and certainly yoga (self-modified).

Of course, you don’t have to choose; this article was meant to just compare three popular exercise modes: yoga, walking and water aerobics. Do all three if you like these forms of exercise, but in order of fat burn potential, it’s: 1) Walking (HIIT) or sustained brisk incline work, 2) Yoga and 3) Water aerobics.